~ Zainab Sariya (@zainabsariya)
We all have heard about Incredible India? Haven’t we? Ever wondered why do we call India ‘Incredible’? There are many factors that add up and make this country the most incredible in the world! And yes, the largest forests in India add to her serenity and incredibility as well.
From our culturally rich states, a variety of landforms, to a plethora of unique languages and irreplaceable heritage. One of the most important and essential factors is its forests! India is home to various type of forests and national parks which are full of breathtaking flora and fauna. These are the ‘Precious’ of our country and should be protected at all costs.
There are many forests, national parks and reserves in India. Here’s a list of the top 11 largest forests in India.
1. Hemis National Park, Jammu and Kashmir
Topping the list of the largest forests in India is the Hemis National Park. Situated in Ladakh, this national park is the largest one in India! Covering about 4,400 sq. km, home to the endangered snow leopards, Tibetan wolf, and Eurasian brown bear. Its fauna also includes birds like the golden eagle, the lammergeier vulture, and Himalayan griffon vulture.
This park is located in the rain shadow region hence there is scarce rainfall. It has dry forests like juniper and Populus-Salix.
The Ganda La mountain pass is situated in this park which attracts many trekkers and travelers making it a tourist hotspot.
2. Desert National Park, Rajasthan
Neighbouring the city of Jaisalmer, this desert is spread over an area of 3,162 sq. km and stands second in this list. Even though it is located in the desert region, it still has a lot of attractions which you won’t be able to see anywhere else.
Being the second of the largest forests in India, the highlight of this national park is the endangered Indian Bustard. Apart from that, we can also find are desert reptiles like the spiny-tailed lizard, Russel’s viper and mammals include desert fox, wolf, hedgehog, etc.
Its flora includes ronj, palm trees, ber, and dhok. The desert national park offers a jeep safari for tourists to explore the Sam sand dunes and the large area of this park in a short span of time.
3. Simlipal National Park, Odisha
Apart from their beautiful beaches, temples and Olive Ridley turtles, Odisha is home to Simlipal National Park which covers over 2,750 sq. km in area. This park comes under the Simlipal Elephant Reserve which is an ecosystem with complete forest vegetation.
It has about 1076 species of mammals, 29 types of reptiles and 231 species of bird types. It has hot summers and chilly winters. It gets moderate to heavy rainfall which is the reason for its tropical moist deciduous forests. They include huge grasslands, beautiful orchids and also some aromatic and medicinal plants.
Its fauna includes tiger, leopards, elephant, sambar, Indian pied hornbill and many more.
4. Gangotri National Park, Uttarakhand
The Gangotri Nationa Park comes fourth among the largest forests in India. Situated on high-altitudes, this national park lies near Uttarkashi. It lavishly covers an area of about 2,390 sq. km. This park is named Gangotri because of the Gangotri glacier which drains to the holy Ganga river.
As it’s on a high- altitude region, it gets unbearably cold hence its remains closed for six months of winter.
Temperate dense coniferous forests are spread over the region, and trees like pine, fir, deodar are seen here. We get to see rare animals due to its unique ecosystem like snow leopard, black bear, blue sheep, brown bear, etc.
5. Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh
The northeastern part of our country is a paradise unexplored! Covering an area of 1,985 sq. km, Namdapha national park is filled with lowland evergreen forests. As the altitude increases, we find alpine forests and perennial snow.
The Namdapha is the only place in India which has four cat species like tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and snow leopard. With a varied altitude and perfect climate, Namdapha is a biodiversity hotspot. Its flora includes various species but the most famous are Sumatran’s pine and Delavay’s fir both are endangered species.
6. Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim
Khangchendzonga is also known as Kanchenjunga National Park lies in the heart of the Himalayas. Khangchendzonga literally means ‘the abode of gods’, it really looks like it also. UNESCO has declared it a mixed-heritage site because it’s filled with both rich culture spots and vast biodiversity.
Being one of the largest forests in India, Khangchendzonga national park has many rare animals like the snow leopard, red panda, blue sheep, barking deer to name a few. It is also home to more than 500 species of avifauna. The flora includes temperate broadleaf forest, mixed coniferous forest, and alpine scrub.
7.Gir National Park, Gujarat
The den of India, the home to the very famous Asiatic lions in the Gir national park! According to the official website, it is the only place in the world where lions roam around freely after Africa. The Gir forest is spread over an area of about 1,412 sq. km and consists of dry deciduous forests. This makes it a perfect habitat for the Asiatic lions and other animals like leopards, antelopes, vultures, and python.
The best time to visit is in the winter as it will be chill but the time for photography is in the summers.
8.Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
Filled with marshy, moist and dense mangrove forest, the Sundarbans is not only one of the largest forests in India but also is the largest delta in the world. This mangrove treasure shred by both India and Bangladesh.
Sundarbans are home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and endangered species like estuarine crocodile and the river dolphins. The ideal time to visit here is from September to March.
9.Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
It may not be the largest in terms of area among the largest forests in India, but is the oldest and the most popular parks in India! It was initially made to protect the Bengal Tiger and then became a popular wildlife sanctuary that shelters a wide range of flora and fauna.
Jim Corbett is spread over an area of 1,318 sq. km offers a range of safaris in different zones, overall it is open all around the year and it is ideal to visit any time of the year.
10.Indravati National Park, Chattisgarh
Deriving its name from the Indravati river, the Indravati National Park covers an area of 1,258 sq. km. Just like every national park this one also has endangered animals like wild buffaloes and hill mynas.
Dominant flora includes Sal, teak, bamboo, lendia and many more. The optimal time to visit is from mid-December to mid-November.
11. Betla National Park, Jharkhand
Last but not least in the list of the largest forests in India is the Betla National Park. Situated over the hilly terrain of Palamau district, Betla National Park is the last but no the least on this list. It covers an area of 1,026 sq. km. It is one of the earliest tiger reserves in the country. It is home to a wide variety of fauna like panthers, leopards, chital, sloths, and bears.
The Betla National Park is famous for its elephant rides and safaris, and the best time to visit this park is between November and March.
This list of largest forests in India comes to an end here folks. These are the lungs of our country and need to be preserved at all times. It’s our responsibility to protect at all costs and not vandalize or violate any rules when we visit these rich biodiversity hotspots.